Junípero Serra

On September 23, at a mass in Washington, DC, Pope Francis is scheduled to canonize Blessed Junípero Serra (1713-84), the Franciscan founder of the Spanish missions in California.Serra was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988. Vatican representatives have pointed out that his sainthood will emphasize the diverse contributions to American identity of Hispanics and will recognize our Pacific as well as our Atlantic heritage. This point would seem to be politically significant at a moment when Republican Party leaders of Hispanic origin, like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and with Hispanic family relations—e.g. Jeb Bush—are vying for their party’s presidential nomination. Continue Reading »

Mission Trips and the “Monolithic Other”

Short-term “mission trips” are hugely popular among American Evangelicals. Usually these trips involve lay people visiting another part of the world with the aim of helping locals and introducing them to Christianity. But recently, these trips have received a lot of criticism from those on the left, who say that many trips amount to little more than religious tourism, and from those on the right, who argue that such trips induce dependency on foreign aid in communities, rather than self-sufficiency. Continue Reading »

Into All the World

John Stott once defined evangelicals as Gospel people and Bible people. No one has embodied these traits more fully than William Carey (1761–1834), an iconic figure among Baptists and evangelicals. A shoemaker by trade, Carey is often dubbed the “father of modern missions.” Today, when the missionary movement has lost much of its focus within wide sectors of the Church, Carey has some important lessons to impart. Continue Reading »